I wouldn’t say I had too many surprises this summer on the Sierra High Route (SHR). I was fairly lucky with weather, I had warm gear, almost enough food, and navigation worked out well. I only had two death-defying falls. One thing stands out about this hike and that thing is exceptional amounts of talus. Now that I think about it, talus caused both of my falls (1, 2). Talus, Talus, Talus So much talus. Talus fields. More talus than you can shake a stick at. Talus coming out your ears. Talus rainbows. Talus, talus, talus. What is talus? ta·lus: a sloping mass of rock fragments at the foot of a cliff. Pics of SHR talus will give you the… continue reading
Abram – the mysterious fellow I met on my L2H hike in October – introduced me to the concept of “bonus miles.” We’re lucky enough as it is to be hiking, thus, any extra miles hiked to get here or there that aren’t on the itinerary are “bonus miles.” Bonus Miles – Pics These are shots from the bonus miles tagged to the end of my Sierra High Route trek. I was done with this epic route at around 1pm October 21st, but I was still deep in the Sierra. A matter of note – the old Taboose Pass trail is very cool. It’s marked on topo maps but little-traveled, a tiny bit hard to find in spots, and quite… continue reading
October 19 – Road’s End to Granite Basin This 35-mile bit of the SHR took me 5 days (an extra day to hike 20 miles to the trailhead, and an extra day to hike 10+ miles out). On the afternoon of October 19th, I made it to Road’s End. I had already covered ten miles in the morning; here are the next ten. Going up Copper Creek Trail made for one of the more difficult days I’ve had on trail. It was a gorgeous, groomed trail, even after angry storms blew through the week before. But this trail is straight up. From 5036 feet at the trailhead to of something like that to the 10,347 feet at the Granite Basin… continue reading
In the middle of October, after having finished an amazing L2H hike with two great guys (Bulldozer and Abram), I was looking at wrapping up my season and heading back to Portland to spend the holidays with my mother. But it was driving me crazy that I hadn’t finished my Sierra High Route hike. I walked around Mt. Williamson, summiting two 14ers to compensate, and I made some excuses, but still it was driving me crazy when I wasn’t trying to put it out of my mind. I’m not sure I’d feel right if I didn’t complete the SHR in one season as I intended. LoveNote showed up in Lone Pine and planted the seed again, a few days later…. continue reading
In 1901 Joseph LeConte married Helen Marion Gompertz, a fellow member of the Sierra Club. In 1902 they backpacked up the little known Cartridge Creek and discovered a beautiful unnamed lake. LeConte named the lake Marion after his wife, and when she died in 1924, a formal plaque was placed on a rock on the shore (it’s still there), with this view. ?? Marion Lake might be one of the most gorgeous and unique alpine lakes in the Sierra, and is fittingly extremely difficult to access – high and remote. I was charmed by this sweet love story, and camped near the lake outlet* *But not too near! I was at least 200 feet away from the water, @elisabitch!
5300 vertical feet and 5 hours later (whew, did it really take me that long to climb the Copper Creek Trail?) I reached Granite Basin. I took this SHR alternate with more established trail due to snow on the ground and weather conditions (cold, possible snow). Also, supposedly there’s a ranger station nearby (I didn’t find it). I just didn’t want to take any chances since I was solo and without an emergency beacon. Granite Basin is spectacularly granite-y and features a Yosemite-ish dome. I made camp as quickly as possible at 10,250ft near Monarch Divide, and dove into my down bag. Many coyotes sang me to sleep, and I woke up briefly at some point to a hail storm.
The Sierra High Route is a 195-mile long route charted through the backcountry — and along some existing trails — of the High Sierra Nevada. It was devised by noted Sierra climber and historian Steve Roper, and originally, discreetly, published in book form in 1982. I first learned about it in 2013 during my thru-hike when the wonderfully thought-full hiker “Manchurian.” Manchurian hiked a section of the Sierra High Route between Reds Meadow and Tuolumne, I’m not sure how much of it he conquered but I remember him telling me it wasn’t too hard, and that the only sign of humanity he found out there was a deflated helium balloon. When the Pacific Crest Trail and it’s burgeoning “culture” totally… continue reading